Accel World Set 01 Review: With 100% More Virtual Robot Fighting

Have you ever heard of augmented reality? It is, essentially, the real world augmented by information from a computer. Now take this concept and move it forward 33 years with advanced, more efficient version of the technology. With that you’d probably get something on the lines of what is depicted in Accel World. The world in this particular anime series has reached a point where computers are entirely holographic and are only visible to the person using it through a device known as a neuro-linker. Everyone has one, like the computer which is so common place in our lives today.

With that kind of technology, it goes without saying that video games would be even more amazing than they are today. Imagine games that completely immerse you in the world, and many of those are depicted throughout Accel World. Now imagine an ARG (Augmented Reality Game) where at any moment you could enter a virtual counterpart of the world and have to fight another player. This is another concept explored by Accel World.

AW1_screenshot1Accel World follows the life of a thirteen student in Junior High known as Haruyuki. Haruyuki, who could honestly be mistaken for an anime version of a hobbit, is a very talented gamer who is frequently picked on and bullied by other students at his school. He uses video games to escape from the real world, preferring the virtual world over the real one. However, he one day has an encounter with a girl at his school who gives him access to a very unique game and program known as Brain Burst. What is Brain Burst you ask? Well, it is essentially a program that effectively slows time for the user via manipulation of brain something or other. I don’t know, the lingo got rather confusing for me.

So this program has a lot of advantages, as it allows you to effectively stop time for a good fifteen or more perceived minutes. Time you can use to dodge an attack, think about how you want to respond to something, and more. Sounds great, right? Well yeah it does in theory. However, there is a catch. When you have the program installed and connect to the global net, you have a very good chance of getting challenged to a duel by another user of the program. The program will then take you to a visceral virtual reality environment where you take a new robotic form and have to fight another player in what is basically Fight Club the video game.

AW1_screenshot3But wait, it gets worse! If you lose a match and lose all your burst points, the program will uninstall and you can never get it back even if you get a new neuro-linker. This also takes away the handy slow-down-time feature. Now imagine you got this program and learned the majority of that the hard way, and you have the situation that Haruyuki finds himself in. With no other option but to fight, Haruyuki teams up with Kuroyukihime (the girl from earlier) in an effort to reach level 10 and complete the game. This may sound strange, but it is something that no player has yet to accomplish.

The story is very interesting, and hooked me during the first episode. For me, if an anime can’t keep me hooked in the first two episodes or so, I usually stop watching it entirely. Heck there have been some anime that I stopped watching within five minutes. Accel World explores very interesting concepts and ideas for future technology and how it can be used, while mixing in it with some usual run of the mill anime tropes. Although there are some odd inconsistencies at times, which makes me wonder if it was an issue in the story or if it was something that wasn’t translated properly in the dub. Specifically the part near the end that talks about how chaotic elements change the virtual world at a fixed rate, which seems rather contradictory given they are supposed to be chaotic.

AW1_screenshot4Accel World has a great art style and the animation is solid. The characters are well designed, the UI elements of both the neuro-link and Brain Burst are clean and crisp to the point that they feel like they are something you could see in real life, and the virtual environments are very appealing to the eye despite the post apocalyptic sci-fi theme they seem to have going on a frequent basis. Characters at time seem to have an odd shine to them along with a color gradient in their hair that is almost mesmerizing in an odd way.

Dubs are touch and go when it comes to anime, and so far a lot of the voices are spot on great. Although I am slightly weirded out by Haruyuki’s voice, as it sounds way too old to be coming out of the vocal cords of a thirteen year old boy. Also, Accel World has a surprisingly foul mouth in terms of language used. I was caught off guard when I heard the F bomb and other words being dropped like it was going out of style, mostly because I’m not used to hearing them in an anime. Oddly enough they still censor rude gestures like the middle finger despite the colorful language.

AW1_screenshot6I’m not sure why I grew to like this anime so much, but I did. I mean, it is certainly a bizarre concept, no doubt about that. It has action, it has drama, it has cliché romance subplots that move at an unrealistically face pace…Accel World has it all. But Accel World does it all so well while mixing it with enough drama and character development to keep the viewer emotionally invested until the end and leave them wanting more. The story kept me hooked throughout all twelve episodes featured in the first half of the series on DVD. I really liked the twelve episodes that I watched, and eagerly look forward to watching more. Among most anime I’ve seen lately, I can heartily recommend Accel World, especially if you have been searching for an anime about players fighting as robots in a virtual environment while getting perks for doing so.